Microhabitat heterogeneity across leaves and flower organs promotes bacterial diversity

FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Robert R Junker, A Keller


Eukaryote-associated microbiomes interact with their hosts in multiple manners, thereby affecting the hosts' phenotype, physical condition and behaviour. In plants, bacteria have numerous functions, with variable net effects, both in natural and agricultural systems. However, information about the composition and diversity of the bacterial communities associated with different aboveground plant organs, particularly flowers, is lacking. In addition, the relative effects of microhabitat and environmental conditions on community establishment require further attention. Here, using culture-independent methods, we determine that leaves and three floral microhabitats (nectar, stamina and styles) of Metrosideros polymorpha (Myrtaceae), a tree endemic to Hawai'i, host unique indicator communities composed of relatively abundant bacterial taxa. These indicator communities are accompanied by a large number of ubiquitous or rare bacteria with lower abundances. In our study system, the strong effect of microhabitat filtering on plant-associated community composition and bacterial richness and diversity strongly exceeds the influence of environmental effects such as precipitation, altitude, substrate age and geographic distance. Thus, the b...Continue Reading


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